Everyone knows that great feeling that comes when everything just “clicks.” It starts first thing in the morning when you look in the mirror after a long soak, brush your hair, and say, “Oh, yeah, you got it going ON!” You never did get that haircut, you’re maybe packing around a couple more pounds than you’d like, but not a hair’s out of place and your clothes drape over you like they were tailored on Savile Row just for you. The bus is on time, your boss isn’t going out of their way to be an asshole, the work day flies by, and everything you need seems to be right at your fingertips.
Writers have their own version of this. It comes when you get ready to send off that scorchingly, earth-changingly brilliant story, novel, or article that you just spent weeks, if not months, editing. You open the attachments dialogue and ask your computer to pretty-please, with sugar on top, cough up your deathless prose for public consumption. An hour of horrified looking later, you can’t find it. Anywhere. Under any possible permutation of the file name you remember attaching to it. Worse, you realize that you somehow managed to send the email to your agent, editor…or your preacher…by accident. If you sent it to your preacher, you’re probably okay, since the file wasn’t attached anyway. But he’s sure to pull you aside on Sunday and ask, “Blazing Hot Blondes: The Homecumming?” with more than a trace of disbelief.
We’re human too. We forget things. We get wrapped up in the moment and forget to hit “Save.” Or hit “Send” before it’s time, resulting in a premature ejaculation of white space all over someone’s screen where there should be a series of squiggles that represent thoughts, ideas, objects and people. Words, to put it another way. We don’t put in the link for that blog post we want the world to know about, so no one knows WHERE to go!
Some of our fails are entertaining. Some of them are downright painful. Some of them cost us money, literally. I’ve had a couple of epic fails that made me want to crawl under my chair, shred my contracts, and migrate to a remote South Sea island where the Internet is a myth and the odds of ever being seen or heard from again approach zero.
Suck it up. Your career isn’t dead until you couldn’t sell a story if it meant the damnation of your immortal soul. Besides, that horrifying error you pulled may not be anything of the sort; in fact, there is a way to take a screw-up like that and transmute it into pure gold.
How? You ask.
Simple. In this case, the writer who can keep a sense of humor, no matter how black, about the situation will pull through without mishap and maybe even attract some new fans. The one who falls to pieces, hides under their desk, refuses to answer the phone or check email and won’t move even if the zombie Apocalypse kicks off two doors down, predictably, will not. The publishing world isn’t that big, and you don’t want the rep of the overly sensitive writer whose thumb and mouth become one inseperable entity in times of stress or out and out crisis.
So you try not to make a misstep. But you will. Count on that.
When you do, have fun with it! Explain your mistake, own it, and be funny about it! Make obscure references to “Sesame Street.” Poke fun at yourself. Say something at the end of your email or post like, “This *facepalm* moment has been sponsored by Kodak and brought to you by the numbers 6 and 9 and the letter AAAARRRRGGGHHH!!!”
Trust me. I’ve done it. And I’ve learned that keeping your cool and your sense of humor intact when you’d rather scuttle off down a hole and only reappear after the dust settles from the Rapture can do wonders for your outlook on life. It certainly doesn’t seem to hurt other people’s outlook on YOU!
Thanks for letting me come by and take over your blog today, Judith!
It’s been a lot of fun. Don’t miss me tonight at www.blogtalkradio/katholmes/1212, where I’ll be reading an excerpt from “Angels Would Fall” and chatting with Kat about the writing life. And do swing by www.jswayne.wordpress.com, where our lovely and gracious hostess will be tied to a chair until she gets at least 20 comments.
Help a girl out?
Until next time,